Barrier Monitoring Unit

18 February 2011

The Barrier Monitoring Unit (BMU) aims to “significantly improve the documentation of the West Bank Barrier‘s impacts on Palestine refugee communities, to strengthen advocacy for better access to land, livelihoods and services while building local capacity.”

In 2002, following the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Israel started constructing the West Bank Barrier

The route of the Barrier deviates from the internationally recognised 1949 Armistice (Green) Line. Its route has been revised numerous times and is currently projected to cover 708 kilometers in length. By July 2012, approximately 62 per cent of the Barrier is complete, a further eight per cent is under construction, about 30 per cent is planned but not yet constructed.1

If completed as planned, 85 per cent of the Barrier will run inside the territory of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In effect, the route of the Barrier will isolate 9.4 per cent of West Bank land between the Barrier and the Green Line.2 This land comprises some of the West Bank’s most fertile land for agriculture, grazing, and some of the most important water sources in the region.3

Currently around 7,500 Palestinians reside in the area between the Green Line and the Barrier, popularly referred to as the “Seam Zone”. Another 23,000 will be isolated if the Barrier is completed as planned.4 Despite there being no physical barrier between their homes and the territory of the State of Israel, entry into Israel is forbidden and they must travel through checkpoints into the rest of the West Bank in order to access basic services and work opportunities. In many cases, persons aged 16 and above need permits simply to continue living in their own homes.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an Advisory Opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, which declared the Barrier and its associated regime to be illegal, and called on Israel to terminate its breaches of international law immediately. The Barrier Monitoring Unit (BMU) was established by UNRWA in March 2010 in response to the need for a comprehensive method of documentation and analysis of the ongoing humanitarian impacts of the Barrier and its associated gate and permit regime on the lives of Palestinians – and Palestine refugees in particular – in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. 

Fast facts


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Barrier monitoring


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  1. OCHA oPt, “The Humanitarian Impact of the Barrier”, July 2012.
  2. OCHA oPt, Barrier Update: Seven years after the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Barrier: The Impact of the Barrier in the Jerusalem area, July 2011, p. 3.
  3. UN Economic and Social Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, E/CN.4/2004/6, September 2003, par. 9.
  4. OCHA oPt, “The Humanitarian Impact of the Barrier”, July 2012.